The creator of the can’t-quite-figure-out-why-it’s controversial show, “Girls,” Lena Dunham, is no stranger to pissing people off. If they’re not mad at her depiction of her reality, void of faces of color on her show, they’re mad that she tried to remedy the backlash by sleeping with Donald Glover aka Childish Gambino on the show. Now, Detroit–yes…all of Motown is mad at Dunham for referencing the motor city in an interview with Howard Stern.
I’m not mad at Dunham for finding the need to defend herself. Stern called her a “little fat girl” on his show. However, her defense didn’t sting Stern, it stung folks in Detroit. Dunham said, “I’m not super thin, but I’m thin for, like, Detroit!” Once Dunham’s painfully funny words hit the streets, the people of Detroit rallied against her.
The Daily Beast gathered a few reactions. Here’s some of the better ones:
Yesha Callahan, 36, writer at BET: “Her comments were borderline racist.”
An East Coast-native with close ties to Michigan, Callahan was shocked to hear Dunham’s remark, calling it not only offensive but racist. “Detroit isn’t known for its population of white people,” Callahan says. The BET writer says Dunham’s comment rings of racism in the way it insinuates Detroit—an urban area with a high population of African-Americans—is a “fat city.” “She doesn’t want to be judged for her size, so she shouldn’t judge an entire city on theirs.” Whether Dunham meant it that way doesn’t matter, says Callahan, if for no other reason than the fact that “most people in the city of Detroit don’t know who she is.”
Bizarre, 36, former member of hip-hop group D12: “[I] think she’s a rock star.”
Dunham’s brazen joke wasn’t lost on all of Detroit. Well-known rapper and former member of the hip-hop group D12, Bizarre was less than perturbed by the quip in a conversation via text. “I think she’s a rock star,” he said, “very edgy.” A self-proclaimed “outspoken rapper,” Bizarre loves things that break the mold. He’s not alone. To some people—even in Detroit—jokes are just jokes, and Dunham’s was nothing more. (Important unrelated side note from Bizarre: “Shout out to Justin Bieber!”)
Jessica Colaluca, creator and creative of Design Seeds: “It boggled my mind.”
Well known in the city of Detroit for her creative prowess, Colaluca says the comment “boggled her mind” because it was “wrong on so many levels.” “It surprised me that a woman who could be a role model to many [her show boasts the assorted humiliations and rare triumphs’ of 20-something women] would say that. The comment had a ‘mean girls’ edge that raised my hackles. There are beautiful, healthy, and confident women in both NYC and Detroit. There are also anorexic and obese women in both cities. She is the size she is no matter who she compares herself to. She could have randomly chosen any city in the U.S. and it would be an inappropriate comment.” On top of the disappointment Colaluca felt in Dunham’s role as a leader for young women, she too felt the pain of yet another Detroit dig. “I personally didn’t like seeing Detroit included in yet another dig on a national level. I was born and raised in Metro Detroit, and graduated from CCS. The city has struggled for decades, but there is a vibrant creative community despite the adversity.”
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